Atheist self-deception

Posted on December 3, 2018 By

Why do so many scientists believe that life resulted from unintelligent natural processes if such is not the case? The short answer is that self-deception is a powerful force in human psychology. But the capacity for a group of people to deceive itself is actually much greater than the capacity of an individual to deceive himself. This is why it is so crucial for one to actually examine the facts at hand, rather than uncritically (and lazily) accept the majority opinion of a group of academics such as scientists. As the great Harvard University paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science Stephen J. Gould put it:

“Unconscious or dimly perceived finagling is probably endemic in science, since scientists are human beings rooted in cultural contexts, not automatons directed toward external truth.”

Biologist Lynn Margulis (winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science), echoes Gould’s above comments about the tendency of scientists to uncritically accept the views of like-minded individuals, in an interview with journalist Susan Mazur for The Altenberg 16: An Expose of the Evolution Industry:

“People are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of ‘truth’ – scientists especially. If not they are unemployable. It is professional suicide to continually contradict one’s teachers or social leaders.”

Groupthink is a powerful distorter of truth

A New York Times article titled Insights Into Self-Deception elaborates on how groups of people are particularly prone to self-deception (more so than individuals):

Such orchestrated self-deceptions were at work, for example, among the group that planned the Bay of Pigs invasion. Irving L. Janis, a psychologist at Yale University, studied in detail how the plans were laid for that fiasco. It was a textbook case of the collective defenses that Janis has called ”groupthink.”

Essentially, when groupthink is at work, group members hobble their seeking of information in order to preserve a cozy unanimity. Loyalty to the group requires that no one raise embarrassing questions, nor attack weak arguments, nor counter soft-headed thinking with hard facts. ”The more amiable the esprit de corps among the members of a policy-making group,” Janis has observed, ”the greater is the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink.” Looking back, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was then on the White House staff, observed how the meetings in which the Bay of Pigs plan took shape went on ”in a curious atmosphere of assumed consensus.”

Yet, he suspects that had a single person voiced a strong objection, President Kennedy would have canceled the plan. No one spoke up. In a post-mortem, Theodore Sorenson, who had been special counsel to President Kennedy, concluded that ”doubts were entertained but never pressed, partly out of a fear of being labeled ‘soft’ or undaring in the eyes of their colleagues.” The rationalization, erroneous, as it turned out, that there would be a mass uprising against Castro once the invasion began, kept the group from contemplating such devastating information as the fact that Castro’s army outnumbered the invading force by more than 140 to one.

Can life emerge from non-life unintelligently?

Are atheists correct that unintelligent natural processes are capable of producing life from non-living matter? Or does this belief result from groupthink similar to the flawed rationale which resulted in the Bay of Pigs invasion? Grab a bag of popcorn. In this episode of Atheist Myth Busters, we are going to examine this question:

By taking a look at the world around, to observe how natural processes actually work, one can confidently arrive at an answer to this question. Without external effort to counteract natural forces, sooner or later, your clean room will get dirty, your body will age, your car will break down, your clothes will wear out, etc. This tendency of natural processes to produce disorder from order (as we all observe on a daily basis) is an aspect of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

But the famed atheist biologist Richard Dawkins suggests that it is reasonable to believe that life could have emerged from non-living matter as a result of unintelligent natural processes, because natural processes occasionally create order from disorder. Since a monkey randomly banging on a typewriter could eventually produce the works of Shakespeare, unintelligent natural processes could eventually produce life from non-living matter, suggests Dawkins…just give it enough time. In his book The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins writes:

“I don’t know who it was first pointed out that, given enough time, a monkey bashing away at random on a typewriter could produce all the works of Shakespeare. The operative phrase is, of course, given enough time.”

Atheists must ignore the elephant in the room

With regards to Dawkins’ above typing monkey illustration, he fails to notice the elephant in the room. It is possible for unintelligent processes to produce order from disorder, but only on a temporary basis. A monkey banging away on a keyboard may eventually randomly type some of the correct letters of a sentence from one of Shakespeare’s plays. But in order for a full sentence (let alone a full Shakespeare play) to be typed randomly by a monkey, correctly typed letters must be preserved once they are typed. Unfortunately, unintelligent natural processes perform no such preservation. Further, preserving correctly typed letters requires a knowledge of what constitutes a correctly typed letter. Unintelligent natural possess no such knowledge. Dean Overman points out this fatal flaw of Dawkins’ atheist reasoning in A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization:

Richard Dawkins constructs a failed analogy in his book The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins understands the odds against chance as the sole cause of life and presupposes that the process of natural selection determines the “correct” letters which the monkey preserves. However, for the monkey to preserve the correct letters in the sequence requires an assumed intelligence apart from and greater than the intelligence of the monkey. This intelligence must have knowledge of the letters which construct a meaningful sentence.

Without such an intelligence, no principle exists for deciding which letters should be preserved. Natural selection does not qualify as such an intelligence, because it is a process, not something like an intelligent mind which knows the alphabet and the structure of a meaningful sentence. Dawkins cannot have it both ways. He cannot logically assert that a process without the characteristics of a mind has the characteristics of a mind and the knowledge required to “know” which letters to preserve. Such an assertion fails because it assumes a self-contradiction. Cadit quaestio. [Latin for “the case is closed”]”

In open systems such as the Earth, wind blowing the sand on a beach may temporarily organize sand into orderly ridges, for example. But there is a big problem with asserting that this is evidence that natural processes can create life from non-life: The same natural processes which created this order will more quickly destroy it.

The work of the famous chemist Ilya Prigogine is often cited by atheists as evidence that life could have “self-organized’ from non-living matter. Prigogine points to such phenomena as ridges in sand emerging from random energy flows (wind) as evidence that matter can “self-organize” into living things.

Similarly, the famous Miller-Urey experiments (scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey) from the 1950’s are frequently cited by atheists as evidence for “abiogenesis,” or the belief that unintelligent natural processes could have produced life from non-living matter. These experiments are alleged to demonstrate that unintelligent natural events, such as flashes of electricity from lightning strikes, could cause chemical reactions which synthesized complex organic compounds from more simple inorganic precursors. Atheists then extrapolate from this apparent unintelligent emergence of order to the belief that life emerged as a result of unintelligent processes.

But what maintains order?

But the philosophical conclusion that natural processes can create life from non-life can only be reached by ignoring the same elephant in the room which Richard Dawkins ignores: What maintains this order once it is produced?

Dr. W.M. DeJong studied Mathematics and Thermodynamics at the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands. He is consultant and researcher of innovation and change at INI-Consult. Dr. DeJong points out the fatal blind spots of extrapolating life emerging “naturally” by citing the research of scientists such as Prigogine and Miller-Urey:

“Ilya Prigogine has shown that ridges in the sand can emerge by random energy flows; but he overlooked that these ridges are not maintained by these random energy flows; the next day they disappear again and are replaced by other ridges in another direction. Prigogine has also shown that living nature is constantly transforming molecules, cells and organisms into more complex structures; but he overlooked that this ordering is driven by the DNA program present in any cell, and not by random energy flows.”

“In the chemical industry simple molecules are transformed into complicated molecules by directed energy flows, not by random natural processes. If random, natural processes would be able to turn chaos into order, complicated molecules would become available for free; all energy problems on earth would be solved and the chemical industry would be out of business.

And, as DeJong points out, it was actually an intelligent agent (Stanley Miller himself) who applied directed external effort to preserve the order temporarily produced by the natural processes involved in the Miller-Urey experiments. But self-deception and ideological blindness prevents atheists from recognizing this:

“Secondly, order that emerges from undirected external forces not only has a temporary character, but does not expand, unless directed external effort is supplied. This law of nature is clearly illustrated by the famous Miller experiment. Random flashes of electricity can turn basic organic substances into the building blocks of DNA. But the next moment, new flashes may destroy these building blocks. The larger the building blocks, the faster they will be destroyed again. Therefore, Miller transported the building blocks formed towards a distillation flask, sheltering them from destruction by new flashes of lightning, resulting into the production of a more and more concentrated organic soup. Miller’s experiment confirms the second law, and shows that the order in a system can only be maintained and increased by directed external effort.”

“It is often supposed that organic molecules have a natural bias to order themselves into increasingly complex structures. It is thought that if an advantage fluctuation of chaos arises, the molecules will move to a nearby, higher and maintained level of order; after some time, a subsequent advantageous fluctuation of chaos will arise and another a step of increasing order will be set; et cetera. More accurate assessment of this line of thought, which is handed by Miller and Prigogine, shows, however, that (1) the emergence of order in chaotic systems is only temporary; (2) the maintenance and further expansion of the order that may emerge in chaotic systems demands directed external effort; and (3) the chaotic processes in living nature that sometimes are turned into order are strongly influenced by the DNA programs of the organisms involved.”

As with the Bay of Pigs invasion, groupthink prevents a like-minded group of people from perceiving the glaring logical flaws of “abiogenesis,” such as those which DeJong alludes to above.


  1. “Groupthink is a powerful distorter of truth”

    That’s true, but I think you need to look in a mirror. Evolution is the consensus view of those people who actually understand the evidence (that is, not you or me). Isn’t it arrogant to think that we laymen can overrule them?

    I suggest we accept the scientific consensus, where it exists, as the best provisional explanation.

  2. Matt says:

    Tell the truth, this article is a satire of theistic thought, right? You deliberately tried to cram in as many typical straw men and fallacies in as small a space as possible, right? If not, I can’t see how else to account for it!

    It starts with an absolute doozy, “Why do so many scientists believe that life resulted from unintelligent natural processes if such is not the case?”

    Firstly, where is the evidence to suggest that it is ‘not the case’?! Science is evidence-based, something notably lacking from the article. Secondly, the article title is about atheist self-deception, so right off the bat you’ve conflated atheism with science. The two are not synonymous.

    A scientist can quite happily believe in a God or Gods and that they are the reason for the self-organising properties we do observe in this Universe. An atheist can cheerfully admit that they have no idea of the origins of life or the Universe, since doing so in no way implies any God or Gods exist.

    Your misrepresentation of the Miller-Urey experiment is laughable. Let’s give a simple analogy that anyone can understand: take a bunch of dirt, soil, sand, rocks and pebbles. Dump it into a fish tank filled with water, and shake it and stir it around. The shaking and stirring is your unintelligent process. Given enough random shaking and stirring, and time to settle, the material you’ve placed into the water will eventually sort itself by size shape and density – order from chaos, with no ‘intelligent design’ required. Anyone with access to Google can see how you’re absolutely lying about abiogenesis. It’s way past time to stop flogging that dead horse.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, complex organic chemistry is being discovered off planet Earth, out in the Universe at large. Meteorites found on Earth contain a wide range of complex constituent molecules, including amino acids. In 2014, Iso-propyl cyanide was detected in a star-forming cloud 27,000 light-years from Earth. (See the paper by Belloche et al in Science 26 Sep 2014:
    Vol. 345, Issue 6204). In the journal ‘Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres’ Sun Kwok from the University of Hong Kong published a paper in 2015 stating:

    “Recent research has discovered that complex organic matter is prevalent throughout the Universe. In the Solar System, it is found in meteorites, comets, interplanetary dust particles, and planetary satellites. Spectroscopic signatures of organics with aromatic/aliphatic structures are also found in stellar ejecta, diffuse interstellar medium, and external galaxies.

    From space infrared spectroscopic observations, we have found that complex organics can be synthesized in the late stages of stellar evolution. Shortly after the nuclear synthesis of the element carbon, organic gas-phase molecules are formed in the stellar winds, which later condense into solid organic particles. This organic synthesis occurs over very short time scales of about a thousand years.”

    Every year the gaps in human knowledge into which you can cack-handedly attempt to shoehorn a God into get smaller and smaller. The bigger problem is that thanks to the help of the unindoctrinated or those who have escaped their indoctrination, it’s easy to find debunkings of Christian ‘logic’ online now. ‘Either Science can explain it, or God dun it’ has been exposed for the false dichotomy it’s always been, every which way from Sunday, and future generations will have all this information at their fingertips. Not a good era in which to be a theist I’d suggest, especially when you rely on distortions of the truth and fallacious arguments alone.

    • God Evidence says:

      Wow Matt! That is a lot of forceful rhetoric! Did this essay make you angry because it is a threat to your atheism?

      You write, “Firstly, where is the evidence to suggest that it is ‘not the case’?! Science is evidence-based, something notably lacking from the article. Secondly, the article title is about atheist self-deception, so right off the bat you’ve conflated atheism with science. The two are not synonymous.”

      Did you read the article Matt? The evidence that life is not caused by unintelligent natural processes is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which we all see creating disorder from order, all around us, every day. Given time, your clean room will get dirty, your car will break down, your clothes will wear out, you will age, etc. This makes it very very difficult to argue that unintelligent natural processes produced life from non-living matter. The longer the period of time, the LESS likely that it is that natural processes will create life from non-life.

      It seems very clear to me that you are trying to use forceful rhetoric to create a smoke screen which obscures the deficiency of your argument.

      I am not conflating science with atheism. Both atheism and theism are meta-scientific conclusions which require human interpretation of scientific research.

      Next, you write, “Your misrepresentation of the Miller-Urey experiment is laughable. Let’s give a simple analogy that anyone can understand: take a bunch of dirt, soil, sand, rocks and pebbles. Dump it into a fish tank filled with water, and shake it and stir it around. The shaking and stirring is your unintelligent process. Given enough random shaking and stirring, and time to settle, the material you’ve placed into the water will eventually sort itself by size shape and density – order from chaos, with no ‘intelligent design’ required. Anyone with access to Google can see how you’re absolutely lying about abiogenesis. It’s way past time to stop flogging that dead horse.”

      This is another example of where you use forceful rhetoric (“laughable” and “dead horse”) to try to create a smoke screen which conceals the weakness of your argument. Order will indeed be produced by the shaking and stirring of a mixture of water and sediment (sorting by size, shape and density), as you suggest. But this order is very temporary in nature. It will quickly disappear once the mixture is disturbed, such as if the fish tank were to be knocked off the table, or even just shaken again once the sediment had settled.

      Like the atheists which I cite in the essay, you ignore the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: What maintains order once it has been temporarily produced by unintelligent natural processes?

      Did you actually read my essay? I cite such examples of order emerging from disorder, but I point out how this order is only temporary in nature. A relevant copy and paste from my essay which you apparently didn’t read:

      Dr. W.M. DeJong studied Mathematics and Thermodynamics at the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands. He is consultant and researcher of innovation and change at INI-Consult. Dr. DeJong points out the fatal blind spots of extrapolating life emerging “naturally” by citing the research of scientists such as Prigogine and Miller-Urey:

      “Ilya Prigogine has shown that ridges in the sand can emerge by random energy flows; but he overlooked that these ridges are not maintained by these random energy flows; the next day they disappear again and are replaced by other ridges in another direction. Prigogine has also shown that living nature is constantly transforming molecules, cells and organisms into more complex structures; but he overlooked that this ordering is driven by the DNA program present in any cell, and not by random energy flows.”

      “In the chemical industry simple molecules are transformed into complicated molecules by directed energy flows, not by random natural processes. If random, natural processes would be able to turn chaos into order, complicated molecules would become available for free; all energy problems on earth would be solved and the chemical industry would be out of business.”

      “Random flashes of electricity can turn basic organic substances into the building blocks of DNA. But the next moment, new flashes may destroy these building blocks. The larger the building blocks, the faster they will be destroyed again. Therefore, Miller transported the building blocks formed towards a distillation flask, sheltering them from destruction by new flashes of lightning, resulting into the production of a more and more concentrated organic soup. Miller’s experiment confirms the second law, and shows that the order in a system can only be maintained and increased by directed external effort.”

      Next, you write, “Meanwhile, back in reality, complex organic chemistry is being discovered off planet Earth, out in the Universe at large.”

      Yes, Matt, and I also recently found some organic chemistry here on Earth when I went out into my back yard. What would be the relevance of your citations of scientific articles about organic molecules in space? Organic molecules exist here on Earth, and in space. Good job.

      How does the existence of organic molecules in space have any relevance to my points about the inability of unintelligent processes to produce order on more than a temporary basis?

      Your organic-molecules-in-space argument commits the Red Herring fallacy. A copy and paste from the preceding article about the Red Herring Fallacy:

      Red Herring Definition
      Red herring is a kind of fallacy that is an irrelevant topic introduced in an argument to divert the attention of listeners or readers from the original issue. In literature, this fallacy is often used in detective or suspense novels to mislead readers or characters, or to induce them to make false conclusions.

      Let us consider a simple example of a red herring. A teacher catches a student cheating during a test. The student in response says, “I know I’ve made a mistake. But think of my parents. They’re going to be heartbroken.” The student uses a red herring in his response. He tries to appeal to pity to distract his teacher from the real issue.

      The term red herring literally refers to a kind of dried red fish, which has a pungent smell. In fox hunting, hounds are prevented from catching the fox by distracting them with the strong scent of red herring. Similarly, a person can be stopped from proving his point, or discovering something important, in an argument by distracting him with an irrelevant issue.

      Lastly, you write, “Every year the gaps in human knowledge into which you can cack-handedly attempt to shoehorn a God into get smaller and smaller. The bigger problem is that thanks to the help of the unindoctrinated or those who have escaped their indoctrination, it’s easy to find debunkings of Christian ‘logic’ online now. ‘Either Science can explain it, or God dun it’ has been exposed for the false dichotomy it’s always been, every which way from Sunday, and future generations will have all this information at their fingertips. Not a good era in which to be a theist I’d suggest, especially when you rely on distortions of the truth and fallacious arguments alone.”

      I actually agree with you when you point out that “Either science can explain it or God dun it” is a false dichotomy. But your conclusion that science can explain things without God is a non-sequitur (does not follow). Science only deals with one level of causation: material causes. Science does not even address ultimate causes. Meta-scientific analysis is necessary in order to determine the ultimate cause for such things as the origin of the universe and the origin of life. The following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse material causation with ultimate causation:

      “Life is not caused by God, but rather, by natural processes.”

      “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”

      Craig Keener notes:

      Views about whether any intelligence exists outside nature are interpretations, not data, hence belong to a different sphere of reasoning than purely empirical scientific expertise confers. As one scholar puts it, facts in isolation “are unintelligible and non-explanatory,” inviting explanation. Yet science as science in the strictest sense proceeds inductively, accumulating finite bodies of information and constructing patterns.

      The interpretation that structures the information, by contrast, is ultimately meta-scientific. Even moving to the meta-scientific level may presuppose an intelligence that exceeds pure, random naturalism. Einstein believed that acceptance of the world’s “rationality or intelligibility” also entailed belief in “a superior mind,” which he defined as God.

      • Matt says:

        Well, you really must think I’m an idiot, to keep repeating debunked arguments which I’ve personally debunked here, and right above your comment no less! Still, my ego will survive and I will forgive you, whether or not a magic wizard in the sky will see it and take note.

        You said, “The evidence that life is not caused by unintelligent natural processes is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which we all see creating disorder from order, all around us, every day.” But I just gave you an example of order from chaos using natural processes alone! That random stirring and shaking can and does occur in nature (seas, rivers, lakes), creating lasting order that gives us a window to the past. No laws of nature violated.

        The discovery of organic chemistry taking place spontaneously in space is the complete opposite of a red herring, indeed it is fundamental to the question of ‘life from non-life’. It shows us that order can be created and maintained in the Universe at large, with the very same kinds of chemicals we need for abiogenesis to occur. However does this happen, what with the Second Law of Thermodynamics and all?

        As you and I both know full well, and I thought by now you’d know I knew, the answer is: we’re not talking about closed systems here. The entropy of the Universe is increasing, energy is being expended in systems such as the Sun/Earth relationship. The sun is the answer as to how order can be created and maintained with no supernatural shenanigans required. Your deliberate misinterpretations, or perhaps ‘innocent misunderstandings’ of science will get short shrift with me. I’m surprised you’d be expecting anything less at this point.

        • God Evidence says:

          Matt,

          So you debunked my arguments? Can you show me where? Be careful about committing the logical fallacy of Proof by Assertion.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion

          You write, “But I just gave you an example of order from chaos using natural processes alone! That random stirring and shaking can and does occur in nature (seas, rivers, lakes), creating lasting order that gives us a window to the past. No laws of nature violated.

          But you very conveniently ignored my point about how this order is only temporary in nature. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies on Earth, whether you consider it a closed system or an open system.

          Do you deny that, on Earth, time will cause your clothes to wear out, your clean room to get dirty, your car to break down, and you to age (etc.)?

          Yes or no, Matt? PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DODGE OR IGNORE THIS QUESTION, OR CREATE A DIVERSION!!! What is your answer?! SPIT IT OUT!!

          You call the order created by natural processes “lasting.” But this is very transparently false. As with the example of order occurring by wind blowing ridges in sand (which the scientist Ilya Prigogine cites), this order is only temporary in nature. As soon as the wind blows in a different direction the next day, this order disappears. “Seas, rivers, and lakes” (which you cite) are in a constant state of flux.

          You write, “As you and I both know full well, and I thought by now you’d know I knew, the answer is: we’re not talking about closed systems here. The entropy of the Universe is increasing, energy is being expended in systems such as the Sun/Earth relationship. The sun is the answer as to how order can be created and maintained with no supernatural shenanigans required. Your deliberate misinterpretations, or perhaps ‘innocent misunderstandings’ of science will get short shrift with me. I’m surprised you’d be expecting anything less at this point.

          No, you fundamentally misunderstand the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It applies to both open systems and closed systems. Dr. W M DeJong notes:

          The second law states, in the language of mathematics, that the disorder of a system (‘entropy’) increases, if the sum of all energy flows that pass its boundary is zero. In case of a closed system, it is evident that the sum is zero, since no energy flows can pass the system boundary. In case of an open system, however, the sum of the flows can also be zero, namely, if the energy flows that enter the system are as big as the energy flows that leave the system. In such an open system, the disorder will increase, as it does in a closed system. Notice that in our physical reality only open systems exist.

          Thought experiment 1

          Let Earth-2 be identical to our Earth, except the presence of living organisms. Place Earth-2 in space in the light of the sun. Draw an imaginary sphere around Earth-2 with a radius of 100,000 kilometers, and measure the energy flows entering and leaving this sphere. Initially, the sum of energy flows that enter the sphere will be greater than the sum of energy flows leaving it, since Earth-2 is warming up in the sun. But after some time, equilibrium will be reached and on average the sum of all energy flows that pass the sphere around Earth-2 will be zero. According to the second law, the disorder on Earth-2 will increase. Large molecules, probably produced by lightning, will ultimately fall apart; the larger the molecules, the faster.

          Thought experiment 2

          Let S be an open system that is positioned in an environment where random (= non directed) energy flows pass its boundary. On average, the sum of the energy flows that pass its boundary will be zero. According to the second law, the disorder in S increases. An example of such a system can be found on a beach. The wind and sea will produce ridges in the sand of a certain area A. But these random energy flows are not directed, and on average the sum of energy flows over the boundary of A will be zero, and the disorder within A will increase: rocks, stones, sand and shells will fall apart, finally into the smallest possible entities. Only directed energy can maintain the sand ridges within A and expand them into sandcastles.

          • Matt says:

            As Isaac Asimov, a professor of biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine, said in 1981:

            “Creationists have learned enough scientific terminology to use it in their attempts to disprove evolution. They do this in numerous ways, but the most common example, at least in the mail I receive, is the repeated assertion that the second law of thermodynamics demonstrates the evolutionary process to be impossible.

            In kindergarten terms, the second law of thermodynamics says that all spontaneous change is in the direction of increasing disorder – that is, in a ”downhill” direction. There can be no spontaneous buildup of the complex from the simple, therefore, because that would be moving ”uphill.” According to the creationist argument, since, by the evolutionary process, complex forms of life evolve from simple forms, that process defies the second law, so creationism must be true.

            Such an argument implies that this clearly visible fallacy is somehow invisible to scientists, who must therefore be flying in the face of the second law through sheer perversity.

            Scientists, however, do know about the second law and they are not blind. It’s just that an argument based on kindergarten terms is suitable only for kindergartens.

            To lift the argument a notch above the kindergarten level, the second law of thermodynamics applies to a ”closed system” – that is, to a system that does not gain energy from without, or lose energy to the outside. The only truly closed system we know of is the universe as a whole.

            Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking subsystem. The overall change then is a complexity loss in line with the dictates of the second law.

            Evolution can proceed and build up the complex from the simple, thus moving uphill, without violating the second law, as long as another interlocking part of the system – the sun, which delivers energy to the earth continually – moves downhill (as it does) at a much faster rate than evolution moves uphill.

            If the sun were to cease shining, evolution would stop and so, eventually, would life. Unfortunately, the second law is a subtle concept which most people are not accustomed to dealing with, and it is not easy to see the fallacy in the creationist distortion.”

            You said, “Do you deny that, on Earth, time will cause your clothes to wear out, your clean room to get dirty, your car to break down, and you to age (etc.)?

            Yes or no, Matt? PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DODGE OR IGNORE THIS QUESTION, OR CREATE A DIVERSION!!! What is your answer?! SPIT IT OUT!!”

            In time my clothes will wear out, my room will get dirty, and my car will break down. I will also die, as do all the other organisms on the planet. But this law does not preclude the existence of new clothes in good condition, tidy rooms nor working cars. Nor does it preclude the existence of living organisms, again, with no supernatural input required. But as you said, this order does not necessarily last forever. Localised decreases in entropy – say, on the Earth – do not violate the Second Law, as long as the total entropy – say in the Earth/Sun system – increases.

            Creationist fake problem solved! Next?!

            • God Evidence says:

              According to the creationist argument, since, by the evolutionary process, complex forms of life evolve from simple forms, that process defies the second law, so creationism must be true.

              But, Matt, this is the very essence of a Straw Man Fallacy. Your citation of Isaac Asimov responds to an argument which I never made (and likely very few other creationists have ever made). A Straw Man Fallacy occurs when a person attacks an argument which his opponent never made (the Straw Man), as if he actually did make it.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

              I (and the vast majority of other creationists) do not argue that creationism must be true merely because the Second Law of Thermodynamics creates disorder from order. This is only one of many arguments which creationists present. To suggest that we believe “creationism must be true merely because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is true” is a crude caricature of creationist arguments. Responding to crude caricatures of your opponent’s arguments is a convenient way to avoid actually producing a rationally constructed argument in favor of atheism.

              For example, I point out that DNA is a language in the most literal (not metaphorical) sense in my essay How Atheism Relies on Special Pleading. Only intelligent agents can create a language.

              To lift the argument a notch above the kindergarten level, the second law of thermodynamics applies to a ”closed system” – that is, to a system that does not gain energy from without, or lose energy to the outside. The only truly closed system we know of is the universe as a whole.”

              Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking subsystem. The overall change then is a complexity loss in line with the dictates of the second law.

              Evolution can proceed and build up the complex from the simple, thus moving uphill, without violating the second law, as long as another interlocking part of the system – the sun, which delivers energy to the earth continually – moves downhill (as it does) at a much faster rate than evolution moves uphill.”

              Isaac Asimov is a perfect example of an atheist who is no doubt highly intelligent, but whose intelligence is dumbed down by groupthink (and ideology). The highly intelligent members of JFK’s administration decided to launch the Bay of Pigs invasion despite the fact that their military force was outnumbered by the Cubans by a factor of 140 to one, because they were dumbed down by groupthink.

              Similarly, atheists like Asimov are dumbed down by groupthink and ideology so that they cannot perceive the ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM. In your citation, Asimov cites energy from the sun as suspending the Second Law of Thermodynamics so that order can evolve unintelligently from disorder. But, if this is the case, why does a dead animal exposed to the heat energy of the sun continue to decompose (rather than re-compose or become more complex)?

              Any order which proceeds from energy transfers (such as the heat energy from the sun) is very temporary in nature, as I mentioned before. If it continued “uphill” as Asimov suggests, then why do dead animals exposed to the heat energy of the sun always continue to decompose? The answer is that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is only very temporarily suspended in an open system until energy transfer has reached a state of equilibrium? DeJong notes:

              In case of an open system, however, the sum of the flows can also be zero, namely, if the energy flows that enter the system are as big as the energy flows that leave the system. In such an open system, the disorder will increase, as it does in a closed system.

              You write, “In time my clothes will wear out, my room will get dirty, and my car will break down. I will also die, as do all the other organisms on the planet. But this law does not preclude the existence of new clothes in good condition, tidy rooms nor working cars.”

              But, again, your atheist ideology blinds you to the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: New clothes in good condition, tidy rooms, and working cars are ALL PRODUCED BY INTELLIGENTLY DIRECTED EXTERNAL EFFORT (people manufacturing clothes, cleaning rooms, and fixing cars).

              This is very similar to how Stanley Miller’s atheist ideology (plus groupthink) blinded him to the obvious. It was his own intelligently directed external effort which caused order to proceed from disorder. Through groupthink, he and other atheists deceived themselves into thinking that unintelligent natural processes produced this order. Dr. WM DeJong notes:

              “Miller transported the building blocks formed towards a distillation flask, sheltering them from destruction by new flashes of lightning, resulting into the production of a more and more concentrated organic soup. Miller’s experiment confirms the second law, and shows that the order in a system can only be maintained and increased by directed external effort.”

              Please answer the following questions without trying to create a diversion, dodge, or ignore:

              On Earth (an open system) DOES A DEAD ANIMAL EXPOSED TO THE HEAT ENERGY OF THE SUN NEVERTHELESS CONTINUE TO DECOMPOSE (or does the sun cause it re-compose)?

              On Earth (an open system), DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CLOTHES TO WEAR OUT?

              On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CLEAN ROOM TO GET DIRTY, WITHOUT INTELLIGENTLY DIRECTED EXTERNAL EFFORT (cleaning conducted by a person) TO COUNTERACT THIS TENDENCY?

              On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOU TO AGE?

              On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CAR TO EVENTUALLY BREAK DOWN WITHOUT REGULAR MAINTENANCE (automotive maintenance is intelligently directed external effort)?

              ANSWER THE QUESTIONS MATT!!! DO NOT TRY TO DODGE OR CREATE A DIVERSION!!!

              Dr. W M DeJong corrects Asimov’s misunderstandings of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which are very obviously dumbed down by groupthink:

              The second law states, in the language of mathematics, that the disorder of a system (‘entropy’) increases, if the sum of all energy flows that pass its boundary is zero. In case of a closed system, it is evident that the sum is zero, since no energy flows can pass the system boundary. In case of an open system, however, the sum of the flows can also be zero, namely, if the energy flows that enter the system are as big as the energy flows that leave the system. In such an open system, the disorder will increase, as it does in a closed system. Notice that in our physical reality only open systems exist. (Italics are mine)

              Thought experiment 1

              Let Earth-2 be identical to our Earth, except the presence of living organisms. Place Earth-2 in space in the light of the sun. Draw an imaginary sphere around Earth-2 with a radius of 100,000 kilometers, and measure the energy flows entering and leaving this sphere. Initially, the sum of energy flows that enter the sphere will be greater than the sum of energy flows leaving it, since Earth-2 is warming up in the sun. But after some time, equilibrium will be reached and on average the sum of all energy flows that pass the sphere around Earth-2 will be zero. According to the second law, the disorder on Earth-2 will increase. Large molecules, probably produced by lightning, will ultimately fall apart; the larger the molecules, the faster.

              Thought experiment 2

              Let S be an open system that is positioned in an environment where random (= non directed) energy flows pass its boundary. On average, the sum of the energy flows that pass its boundary will be zero. According to the second law, the disorder in S increases. An example of such a system can be found on a beach. The wind and sea will produce ridges in the sand of a certain area A. But these random energy flows are not directed, and on average the sum of energy flows over the boundary of A will be zero, and the disorder within A will increase: rocks, stones, sand and shells will fall apart, finally into the smallest possible entities. Only directed energy can maintain the sand ridges within A and expand them into sandcastles.

              • Matt says:

                Let’s start with the conclusion first:

                As anyone, creationist, atheist, or scientist can check on Google for themselves:

                The Second Law of Thermodynamics poses no problems whatsoever for Abiogenesis or Evolution coming about under naturalism.

                Now, your questions are disingenuous red herrings, but I will give them the sorts of answers they merit:

                On Earth (an open system) DOES A DEAD ANIMAL EXPOSED TO THE HEAT ENERGY OF THE SUN NEVERTHELESS CONTINUE TO DECOMPOSE (or does the sun cause it re-compose)?

                – Dead bodies do not come back to life as far as I know. They may be incorporated back into living organisms though. This is no problem for Abiogenesis or Evolution.

                On Earth (an open system), DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CLOTHES TO WEAR OUT?

                – Time by itself does not cause clothes to wear out. Physical process that occur over time may do though.

                On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CLEAN ROOM TO GET DIRTY, WITHOUT INTELLIGENTLY DIRECTED EXTERNAL EFFORT (cleaning conducted by a person) TO COUNTERACT THIS TENDENCY?

                – It is possible to go from an ordered state, the tidy room, to a disordered state, then BACK again by expending energy. All of these stages include an increase of entropy. Since ‘tidy’ and ‘untidy’ are subjective ideas, these conditions are easily reversible, whereas not all physical states are (like death).

                On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOU TO AGE?

                – The passage of time, or rather physical processes in that time, cause aging. We don’t yet have the technology to completely halt or reverse this effect, but perhaps in the future we will. It will cost energy to do this, again, this is in line with the Second Law.

                On Earth (an open system) DOES TIME CAUSE YOUR CAR TO EVENTUALLY BREAK DOWN WITHOUT REGULAR MAINTENANCE (automotive maintenance is intelligently directed external effort)?

                – Time by itself ‘does’ nothing in this regards, as I’ve already noted above. Given enough energy in maintaining and replacing parts, the car could last for arbitrarily long periods of time (whether or not we could call it the same car after replacing all the parts is the subject of philosophical debate).

                None of the examples pose any problem for a naturalistic world view. They demonstrate that order IS possible – and to find natural examples one need look no further than the stars in the night sky – and I’ve mentioned how that order can be maintained.

                (P.S. Nobody is saying that dead bodies should spontaneously ‘recover’ after being warmed in the sun. I don’t know where you’d get such an idea! If you’re confused about abiogenesis, why not look in to some secular sources rather on it, rather than at creationist propaganda?)

                • God Evidence says:

                  You write: “Let’s start with the conclusion first:

                  As anyone, creationist, atheist, or scientist can check on Google for themselves:

                  The Second Law of Thermodynamics poses no problems whatsoever for Abiogenesis or Evolution coming about under naturalism.

                  Matt, are you really arguing that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not pose a threat to atheism because you can find material on the internet which says so? I hope not, because that would be really, really, really weak. Believing something merely because lots of other like-minded people (other atheists, in your case) believe it is the very essence of groupthink. Mindlessly parroting back the views of other like-minded people without critical analysis (groupthink) does not lead one to truth. Rather, it can lead groups of highly intelligent people into believing profoundly stupid things, as with the group of highly intelligent advisors of the JFK administration who believed the Bay of Pigs invasion was a good idea, despite being outnumbered by the Cuban military forces by a factor of 140 to one.

                  “– Dead bodies do not come back to life as far as I know. They may be incorporated back into living organisms though. This is no problem for Abiogenesis or Evolution.”

                  Watch out for the Straw Man fallacies. I am not arguing that dead bodies failing to come back to life poses a problem for abiogenesis or evolution. Here is what I am pointing out:

                  You cited Isaac Asimov as suggesting that the heat energy of the sun in an open system such as the Earth suspends the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, thus allowing for abiogenesis and evolution. But dead plants and animals decomposing while exposed to the heat energy of the sun (while on the open system of Earth) is a very undeniable manifestation of the progression towards disorder with time (entropy) predicted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. How can one seriously argue that the heat energy of the sun suspends the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics unless one is blinded by ideology and/or groupthink?

                  If Issac Asimov is correct that order increases in an open system, while exposed to the heat energy of the sun, then what we should observe is dead plants and animals re-composing, or becoming more complex while lying in the sun. But this is very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably NOT what we observe. Rather, what we ALWAYS observe is decomposition, which is a manifestation of the progression towards disorder with time (entropy), as per the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The order which existed in the animal’s body while it was alive diminishes, and it returns to the less complex building blocks of which its body was made.

                  So, what needs to be explained here is how a highly intelligent person such as Isaac Asimov could believe something which is so very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably false. My suggestion is that his intelligence is dumbed down by groupthink and ideology, so that he cannot perceive the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. As the example of Isaac Asimov illustrates, mindlessly parroting back what you heard other like-minded people say (other atheists, in this case) does not lead one to truth.

                  Time by itself does not cause clothes to wear out. Physical process that occur over time may do though.”

                  No, I never suggested that time by itself causes clothes to wear out. Rather, I suggested that clothes wearing out over time is another manifestation of the progression from order towards disorder over time (entropy) predicted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

                  It is possible to go from an ordered state, the tidy room, to a disordered state, then BACK again by expending energy. All of these stages include an increase of entropy. Since ‘tidy’ and ‘untidy’ are subjective ideas, these conditions are easily reversible, whereas not all physical states are (like death).

                  Yes, it is possible to go from an ordered state (the tidy room) to a disordered state, then back again by expending energy. But this energy expenditure must be intelligently directed external effort. Unintelligent natural processes do not clean rooms. If they did, the maid service industry would be out of business, as would the vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies industries. Only the intelligently directed external effort of intelligent agents (people) can clean rooms.

                  “Tidy” is not a subjective term. The order present in a house was put there by intelligent agents (carpenters and construction crew) expending directed external effort. A dirty house represents a small progression towards the lower state of order which existed prior to the house being built. With enough time, the house will eventually return to the less ordered basic building blocks of which it was constructed by intelligent agents. Just look at ancient ruins in places such as Greece and Egypt, and you can see this progression towards the lesser ordered state which existed prior to the construction of these buildings.

                  The passage of time, or rather physical processes in that time, cause aging. We don’t yet have the technology to completely halt or reverse this effect, but perhaps in the future we will. It will cost energy to do this, again, this is in line with the Second Law.

                  I sure hope you are right, because I would love to be 21 again. But if this technology does arrive, it will be another PERFECT example of how only intelligently directed external energy expenditure (scientists creating new technologies) can reverse the progression of disorder over time, as predicted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

                  Time by itself ‘does’ nothing in this regards, as I’ve already noted above. Given enough energy in maintaining and replacing parts, the car could last for arbitrarily long periods of time (whether or not we could call it the same car after replacing all the parts is the subject of philosophical debate).”

                  No, time by itself doesn’t do anything in this regards. I never suggested that. What I suggested is that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics predicts that the measure of disorder in a system (entropy) will increase over time. People maintaining and replacing parts would be yet another PERFECT example of how only intelligently directed external effort can counteract the progression of disorder over time predicted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

                  None of the examples pose any problem for a naturalistic world view. They demonstrate that order IS possible – and to find natural examples one need look no further than the stars in the night sky – and I’ve mentioned how that order can be maintained.

                  What poses a problem for the naturalistic worldview is the fact that only intelligently directed external effort can counteract the progression towards disorder over time predicted by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, as all of your above examples clearly illustrate. The naturalistic worldview requires unintelligent natural processes to counteract this progression towards disorder over time. But this very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably, does not happen. Therefore, the naturalistic worldview is very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably FALSE.

                  • Matt says:

                    “Believing something merely because lots of other like-minded people (other atheists, in your case) believe it is the very essence of groupthink.”

                    There you go again, conflating scientists with atheists. I follow the scientific consensus on the vast majority of matters for a simple reason: a scientific consensus is not based on belief, but evidence.

                    Searching online, I haven’t seen any credible scientific sources to back up your assertion that, “the naturalistic worldview is very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably FALSE”, in fact, quite the opposite. This does not lead me to the conclusion that you are wrong, or that naturalism explains everything, just that there’s no evidence at this point to support your assertion.

                    “The naturalistic worldview requires unintelligent natural processes to counteract this progression towards disorder over time.” I already showed how water mixed with rubble ‘unintelligently’ can produce order. Amino acids, and organic chemistry found in space are more examples, and more relevant to the question at hand. Star formation occurs, organising clouds of dust into the bright, hot, nuclear furnaces of the kind that allowed life to originate and survive on this planet. Obviously these processes occur, despite your assertions.

                    In fact, the 2nd Law does not prohibit the spontaneous appearance of order. If you know and can prove otherwise, and especially if you can demonstrate that abiogenesis is impossible without supernatural forces, I look forward to you receiving accolades from all the religious groups around the globe.

                    • God Evidence says:

                      Matt,

                      You write, “There you go again, conflating scientists with atheists. I follow the scientific consensus on the vast majority of matters for a simple reason: a scientific consensus is not based on belief, but evidence.

                      First of all, I do not conflate atheists and scientists. I was referring to scientists who are atheists.

                      Secondly, the history of science very clearly and unequivocally shows that scientific consensus is a VERY POOR signpost for truth. My post titled The Mythology of Atheism delves into this topic. A copy and paste from that essay:

                      Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda in light of the fact that what constitutes science is in a constant state of flux. Biologist Lynn Margulis, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science, put it best in her book What Is Life?:

                      “…Science is asymptotic. [“asymptote” is derived from a Greek word meaning “not falling together.”] It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy; alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

                      Those with a short-sighted view of the history of science are prone to overlook the fact that alchemy (which believed that metals such as lead could be turned into gold) and astrology were once considered scientifically respectable. In fact, as Margulis alludes to above, the scientific consensus of one age usually becomes the myth or superstition of the next age. Elite physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin cite examples of this trend among scientific theories in their book The Matter Myth:

                      “A classic example concerns the ‘luminiferous ether.’ When James Clerk Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, it seemed obvious that this wave had to have a medium of some sort through which to propagate. After all, other known waves travel through something. Sound waves, for example, travel through the air; water waves travel across the surface of lakes and oceans. Because light, which Maxwell discovered is a form of electromagnetic wave, can reach us from the Sun and stars, across seemingly empty space, it was proposed that space is actually filled with an intangible substance, the ether, in which these waves could travel.

                      So sure were physicists of the existence of the ether that ambitious experiments were mounted to measure the speed with which the Earth moves through it. Alas, the experiments showed conclusively that the ether does not exist.

                      …For nineteenth-century physicists, however, the ether was still very real.”

                      Atheist mythology suggests that, as scientific knowledge grows, the need for theistic belief diminishes. However, in his pivotal work on the history, philosophy, and sociology of science titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, physicist Thomas Kuhn points out how the history of science makes it difficult to justify the characterization of science as “an ever growing stockpile [of] knowledge” (or a “process of accretion”). In part, this is because most scientific theories (or models) which were accepted by the scientific communities of the past are now perceived as pseudo-science or myth.

                      Kuhn cites the examples of Aristotelian dynamics (which was superseded by Newtonian physics), phlogistic chemistry (which said that a fire-like element called phlogiston is contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion), and caloric thermodynamics (which said that heat is really a self-repellent fluid called caloric that flows from hotter bodies to colder bodies). (Click here for many more examples). If these theories were regarded as “science” in their day, but as “error” and “superstition” today, then why should we not assume that the scientific theories of today will become the error and superstition of tomorrow? Kuhn writes:

                      “…Historians confront growing difficulties in distinguishing the ‘scientific’ component of past observation and belief from what their predecessors had readily labeled ‘error’ and ‘superstition.’ The more carefully they study, say, Aristotelian dynamics, phlogistic chemistry, or caloric thermodynamics, the more certain they feel that those once current views of nature were, as a whole, neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosyncrasy than those current today. If these out-of-date beliefs are to be called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sorts of methods and held for the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If, on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today. Given these alternatives, the historian must choose the latter. Out-of-date theories are not in principle unscientific because they have been discarded. That choice, however, makes it difficult to see scientific development as a process of accretion.”

                      There can be no question that science has been very useful to modern society. Computers, space exploration, and air travel (not to mention nuclear weapons) are all the products of modern science. But as Freeman Dyson (who holds the professorship in physics at Princeton University formerly held by Albert Einstein) notes in his March, 2011 essay How We Know, the usefulness of scientific theories should not be confused with their truth:

                      “Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it. Distrust and productive use are not incompatible. Wikipedia is the ultimate open source repository of information. Everyone is free to read it and everyone is free to write it. It contains articles in 262 languages written by several million authors. The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate. It is often unreliable because many of the authors are ignorant or careless. It is often accurate because the articles are edited and corrected by readers who are better informed than the authors.

                      The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries….The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.

                      …Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

                      Matt, you write, “Searching online, I haven’t seen any credible scientific sources to back up your assertion that, “the naturalistic worldview is very obviously, unequivocally, and undeniably FALSE.” But your standard of credibility is whether or not the source is naturalistic. So you are basically looking to see if anyone of the naturalistic worldview thinks that naturalism is false. But, of course you can’t find any such sources which meet your criterion for credibility. This is the very essence of circular reasoning. Have you tried any of the Christian websites such as William Lane Craig’s reasonablefaith.org. I’ll bet not, because, being a Christian, Craig doesn’t meet your standard for credibility.

                      Next, you write, “I already showed how water mixed with rubble ‘unintelligently’ can produce order..”

                      But you keep ignoring my response to this! This order is very temporary in nature. As soon as the bucket which contains the water mixed with rubble is moved in a different manner, after being allowed to settle this order disappears. Dr. WM DeJong, who studied thermodynamics at the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands. He writes:

                      “Ilya Perigone has shown that ridges in the sand can emerge by random energy flows [wind]; but he overlooked that these ridges are not maintained by these random energy flows; the next day they disappear again and are replaced by other ridges in another direction.”

                      Next, you write, “Amino acids, and organic chemistry found in space are more examples, and more relevant to the question at hand. Star formation occurs, organizing clouds of dust into the bright, hot, nuclear furnaces of the kind that allowed life to originate and survive on this planet. Obviously these processes occur, despite your assertions.

                      No, I never asserted that these things did not happen. OK, fine, amino acids and organic chemistry are found in space. But, once again, what would be the relevance of that? We are discussing whether living things can be created by unintelligent natural processes, and you cite amino acids and organic chemistry found in space. But what relevance does whether or not they are found in space have to the question of whether they were formed by unintelligent natural processes? This is very, very strange.

                      We are discussing HOW they were formed, not WHERE they are found. These are two entirely different questions. Imagine the dialogue between two scientists:

                      Scientist #1: “How were living things formed?”

                      Scientist #2: “Living things are found in space, as well as on Earth.”

                      Please note that the answer which scientist #2 provides does not even address the question which scientist #1 asked. Scientist #1 must find scientist #2 to be a very strange fellow.

    • Good points.

      Granular convection (why are the biggest nuts always at the top of the jar?) is the formal name for the process that sorts a heterogeneous mix of particles.

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